SOLDIER John Boot was one of the first Englishmen to see inside Adolf Hitler's Berlin bunker - just weeks after the German leader had committed suicide there with his lover Eva Braun.

Mr Boot, 87, from Marlow, tells of his wartime experiences in his memoirs published for his family for Remembrance Sunday.

He was one of Winston Churchill's security guards on a trip to Germany at the end of the Second World War. Mr Boot visited the site on his first day off.

Mr Boot said: "It is an incredible piece of underground engineering. It was on several levels and there were rooms leading off everywhere. It was a complete little township, all self-contained."

Among his wartime souvenirs, Mr Boot collected a pocket diary and a Yale key and chain from the bunker. He still has them to this day.

He said: "Like a lot of fellows who have been through the war, we don't like talking about it. It would feel like boasting and there are far braver men than me. But sitting around the table at family get-togethers you tell the odd anecdote and my sister and daughters said I should write my memoirs for them. I am going to give it to them for Remembrance Sunday and perhaps one day when they look back they will remember me and be proud."

Mr Boot was born in Marlow and grew up in Dean Street. He went to the church school in St Peter's Street and then got a job as a film operator at the old cinema in Dean Street.

His father John served in the First World War and did not approve of him becoming a soldier, so he was forced to get his mother Eliza to sign the permission form for him to join the Territorial Army in Institute Road.

Mr Boot joined the 1st Buckinghamshire Battalion Light Infantry but was moved to the military police after being injured whilst lighting lamps on road duty in Belgium.

Mr Boot now lives with his wife near Leicester and is too ill to attend a remembrance service in Marlow but will be sending his memoirs down to his sister Mary, who still lives in the town, for her 90th birthday today.

Mary Bovington said: "I am very proud of John and think it is a wonderful thing that he has published his memoirs.

"It is very important to remember all the sacrifices people made in the war and all the brave things they did.

"It is so hard to get through to young people today just how much others paid for our freedom today.

"I hope people get to read John's memoirs and think about ordinary people like him this Remembrance Sunday."

Marlow Town Council is organising a veterans' lunch at Court Gardens tomorrow.

l To order a copy of A Soldier's Tale call 01509 267450 or visit